music and exercise(ultimate guide)

we all have our own favourite hits that get us energized for our training session. no approach in general is just pros and like everything, music has good benefits and also bad effects on our training. in this article instead of going through pros and cons of music in general, we talk about aerobic and anaerobic training and what style of music is best for them and why.

to reap the most benefit from our exercise we should know when to listen to music and what type of songs are better for our goals and also when not to listen to anything. before getting down to business, we have to advice you to watch the volume all the time if you listen to music. Researchers have found that even moderate-level activity, if accompanied by very loud music (over 100 decibels), can cause temporary hearing loss.
the affect of music is so high that In a 2012 review of a research, Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London(one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of exercise music)wrote that you should think of music as a type of legal performance-enhancing drug. In fact, the human brain may have evolved with the expectation that, wherever there is music, there is movement. although this idea emerges more from the imaginative minds of speculating evolutionary psychologists than from experimental evidence.
Before the invention of reed flutes and other musical instruments, our ancestors likely produced the earliest forms of music by singing, screaming, chanting or otherwise using their vocal cords, as well as by physically interacting with their own bodies, other people and the environment. A fast tempo would have likely required fast movements: quick clapping or foot stamping, perhaps. Deep, loud sounds would have demanded great energy and force—belting a note or beating the ground or a rock. In its conception, music was likely an extension of the human body. Maybe the brain remembers it that way.
According to the available evidence, music captures attention, triggers a range of emotions, alters or regulates mood, increases work output, heightens arousal, induces states of higher functioning, reduces inhibitions and encourages rhythmic movement.
researchers Levitin and Tirovolas believe that Music influences emotional responses (i.e., the limbic system), associate/automatic movements (i.e., the basal ganglia), coordination (i.e., the cerebellum), and the organization and planning of movements (motor, pre-motor, and supplementary motor areas) and The rhythmic patterns of music facilitate error correction and the execution of movements. repeated movements seem to be related to the phases between pulse music beats, stimulating a feedback/forward loop.
the general belief for tempo of the music is the ideal tempo necessary for maximum performance depends on the type of exercise. you should not always train with high tempo and fast beat songs since the higher they get, the lower overall performance is going to be since it hinders concentration and mind-muscle connection and it may even cause injuries also when tempo is lower than exercise tempo, it is going to bore you and make you feel tired sooner. although music cannot be described only using tempo, but also other characteristics need to be considered such as lyrics, melody, and genre.
studies have demonstrated that music regulates processes in the autonomic nervous system and can be used to regulate the cardiovascular system with regard to both HR and blood pressure.
a 2012 study done by Altenmüller, E., & Schlaug, G. showed that participants who listened to music they liked had higher levels of serotonin.
Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness but it also has a big effect on pain relief.
music distracts from pain endured during exercise through competing sensory stimuli, because it is easier to forget about pain or fatigue when a song you enjoy is distracting you. it can be both good and bad since it reduces pain from both Lactic acid buildup or muscle fatigue but also pain in joints, bones and other areas which could result in injuries.
When music is used before athletic activity, it has been shown to increase arousal, facilitate relevant imagery, and improve the performance of simple tasks.
the capacity of music to shift the focus away from feelings of discomfort and fatigue and this has been demonstrated through the assessment of rating of perceived exertion (RPE). music seems unable to divert attention during exercise that is overly intense with a high degree of bodily discomfort.
While the positive effects of music on how one feels may not have the power to alter the perceptions of fatigue when exercising at very high intensities, music may change how one interprets or responds to sensation of high exertion.
studies have shown that listening to lower tempo and slower beats compared to training tempo has a worse output than not listening to music at all.
A plausible reason for why different types of exercise have different ideal tempos is related to one’s ability to keep time with the beat of the music, synchronizing strides or pedaling to the beat of the music. Since pace differs on the treadmill versus doing shoulder lateral raises, music of different tempos is needed to achieve ideal performance for various workouts.
as a general rule, if you are new to a type of training and do not have the mind-muscle connection, it is recommended to not use any music until you become more experience. keep in mind we train for progress, not enjoying music.
it also has been shown that listening songs you never heard of while training is going to mess with your session since you do not know the rhythm and also because it is something new, your body automatically wants to know what it is(since we crave new information biologically) and concentrates on that.
also songs which you have listened to too many times can loose their effect on uplifting your mood, but it really depends on individual, there are professional athletes who just have less than 10 favourite songs and constantly listen to them.
also keep in mind that songs with fast lyrics(like hip-hop and rap) tend to hinder your focus, since a lot of us like to sing in our mind with it and that messes up our breathing rhythm. it is advised to listen to foreign music if your training needs extra focus(especially weight lifting or sprinting). since you do not understand the language, you do not focus on words.
keep in mind that you should not always listen to music anyway. depending on your goals and your level of experience, you should stop listening to songs and focus on your weaknesses. look at music as a tool to get you moving to get the session done, not enjoying the session and making time pass by faster.
in general, Endurance exercise seems more sensitive to external stimuli due to the mental fatigue and perception of effort involved in endurance exercise but anaerobic high intensity training requires fewer decision-making processes compared to endurance exercise, due to the all-out strategy and the intrinsically shorter duration.
in several studies(like “Effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate among young adults” by “Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol” in 2017), it has been shown that music can increase work-out time, and we all know that you cannot workout focused for long period of time so if it makes it possible for you to train longer, it means it can make you less focused on your training.
as a general rule, there are times when trainers and coaches should avoid the use of music. When exercisers need to devote their full attention to a task (say, for safety reasons), or when they are learning a demanding new skill, or when they are working at high intensity and need to pay full attention to their physical limits (“listening to the body” in other words) the use of music should be limited.

what type of music is good for aerobic training?

Aerobic exercises are endurance-type exercises that increase a person’s heart rate and breathing rate over relatively long durations. in this type of exercise(normally refered to as cardio), your muscles break down glucose for fuel with the help of oxygen. Swimming(long distance), Cycling(long distance), Using an elliptical trainer, Walking, and Rowing are all considered aerobic training.
When a song has a continuous beat, it inspires you to exercise longer or work harder during your exercise routine.
a study done in 2012 by Karageorghis, C.I., & Priest, D.L. titled Music in the Exercise Domain: A Review and Synthesis (part II) show that faster-paced music tends to help improve athletic performance when a person engages in low-to-moderate level exercise, either by increasing distance travelled, pace, or repetitions completed.
A 2011 study showed that in order to achieve the best performance for cycling (which was calculated by measuring exercise intensity through heart rate), the preferred tempo is between 125 and 140 beats per minute (bpm). A study done in 2014 by Karageorghis, C. & Jones, L. (2014) titled On the stability and relevance of the exercise heart rate-music-tempo preference relationship, showed that the best music tempo for enhanced performance on the treadmill is between 123 and 131 bpm.
Although many people do not feel the need to run or move in exact time with their workout music, synchrony may help the body use energy more efficiently. When moving rhythmically to a beat, the body may not have to make as many adjustments to coordinated movements as it would without regular external cues. In a 2012 study by C. J. Bacon of Sheffield Hallam University, Karageorghis and their colleagues, participants who cycled in time to music required 7 percent less oxygen to do the same work as cyclists who did not synchronize their movements with background music. Music, it seems, can function as a metronome, helping someone maintain a steady pace, reducing false steps and decreasing energy expenditure.

what type of music is good for anaerobic training?

Generally, these activities are of short length with high intensity. The idea is that a lot of energy is released within a small period of time, and your oxygen demand surpasses the oxygen supply. in this type of exercise, your muscles break down glucose for fuel without the help of oxygen. high intensity interval training (HIIT), heavy weight lifting, calisthenics, like plyometrics, jump squats, or box jumps, and sprinting (while running, cycling, or swimming) are considered anaerobic training.
based on the fact that this types of exercises have a RPE level higher than 7, you really need to not only avoid music, but also even try meditating and doing techniques like deep breathing and even yoga in some cases to stay alert and perform them both correctly and safely.
a high RPE or anaerobic session has long rest periods, some people believe you should listen to music in between sets to energize yourself, some people even do meditation, as mentioned, in between. it really is something that you should decide yourself but the majority of experienced anaerobic trainers believe you should not listen to music when performing an exercise which is going to take less than 1 minute.